Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are familiar with the scripture quote from the curse of Adam in Genesis. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (Gen. 3:19) as we hear quoted at grave-sides and on Ash Wednesday. Dust is all around us and in us. Our bodies are comprised of matter that has passed through different cycles of plants and the animals that we eat to be added to our flesh. All that we consume comes from the dust. The dust is a constant teaching and reminder of our mortality that is in the world since our forefathers Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Life is not easy. As the Psalmist says: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

For most modern day Europeans and middle class Americans, the “toil and trouble” of life certainly touches us in the forms of loss and stress in family and work and the busyness of our rat-race lives. But very seldom do we really know what it is to suffer the challenge of not knowing where our next meal will come from. Our fridges and cupboards are full. A hot meal is only a microwave, a drive-thru, or a credit card swipe away. Worries of the toil to find “daily bread” to eat are the concerns of the poor in the inner cities or the stories of our elders who lived through the Dust Bowl or the Great Depression.

How different our comfort and security in life is from the daily life in many parts of Africa. Most of the population lives on sustenance farming. They live off of the land they have inherited and they subsist mainly on the corn meal, wheat, or rice that they harvest. If the harvest is bad the family eats poorly. This is the case for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in our partner churches in West Africa - especially this year. This year the rains were sporadic and there were diseases that weakened the crops. As a result, the harvests were only about ¼ to ? what they normally would be. Our LCMS daughter church in Burkina Faso has been hit by an especially poor harvest. The harvest was a couple of months ago and, in some cases, the food has run out. Now there is the heat, the dry, and the dust of the Harmattan season. The Harmattan is the time of year when the winds of the Sahara bring in dust to other parts of West Africa. Nothing grows at this time and many people fall sick because of the dust. It is a time when each person can see, feel, and taste (because the dust gets in your mouth) the curse of life in a fallen world.

But the dust is also a lesson in the comfort we have in our Lord and His promises. The prophet Job exclaims in hope “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”(Job 19:25-26) Even Job in his destitution and suffering hung on to the promises of eternal life in the Lord. In all suffering today, in body or soul or mind, when the dust clouds and corrupts the blessing of life and creation, we know and believe that we are not abandoned and that the Lord remains faithful. We shall not die but live. This promise in faith in Christ allows us to live boldly and to confront the sufferings thrown at us and at others with joy and confidence. This is what has been demonstrated by Lutheran brothers and sisters in Togo towards their brethren in Burkina Faso. Even though Togo was also hit by a poor crop this year, an appeal was made to ask every Lutheran family and parish in the sector of the city of Nano (not far from Dapaong) to bring a bowl or two of corn or rice to share and send to Burkina Faso. And God's people responded. Not more than a week after the appeal was published, almost 2 large sacks of corn and rice were collected at a regional Lutheran church meeting. In addition, the parish at the CLET seminary campus contributed about 22,000 francs (about $42). The Togolese Lutherans who gave, they themselves did not have much, and the donation will help for only a few months. Yet, the important part of this action is the good faith and the gesture of hope and solidarity toward others in their suffering. Having hope in the promises of God, for life eternal and the life here and now, believers gave back to the Lord what He had already provided to them.

In Christ,

Rev. Jacob W. Gaugert
Centre Luthérien D'Études Theologiques
B.P. 53

Togocell # (+228) 93 43 95 26
T-Mobile Intl. # (262) 271-3813

About our Missionary ...

Reverend Jacob W. Gaugert was ordained in April, 2010. at Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in theological and classical languages. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana for two years and spent an acedemic year as Vicar for St. Mary's Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany. He received his M. Div. degree from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2010. He served as Vacancy Pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whiting, Indiana from 2011-2013.

In 2013, Reverend Gaugert answered a call as a career missionary to teach at a Lutheran Seminary in Dapaong, Togo (West Africa).